Streaming media from Samba share to Android

Like many, I have a server/NAS that contains all my media (movies, music, photos, documents etc.), which is accessible via a Samba share to PCs in my house via LAN/wifi. XMBC works great to view all the media on-demand on the TV, however I was looking for a way to stream the media to an Android tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1). And I found a REALLY simple, free solution:

  1. Install ES File Explorer (free) from the Android Market.
  2. Install RockPlayer Lite (free) from the Android Market.
  3. Open ES File Explorer and change view to LAN, then hit ‘New’ then ‘Server’ (from menu).
  4. Enter your server/NAS IP address, then a forward slash, then your share name, and any credentials if necessary.
  5. Hit OK, now you should be able to browse all the files on your Samba share with ease.

Now, when you tap on a movie file (avi/mpg/wmv etc.), you will get a prompt to choose which video player to use. Select RockPlayer Lite, and your movie will start playing within a few seconds. I’ve tested this for a variety of movie file types and sizes and RockPlayer Lite works really well, including skipping forwards and backwards through movies. For HD movies, expect to wait a little longer for the movie to buffer before it begins to play (e.g. > 10 seconds), once it gets going it seems pretty stable (no buffering). I’ve also tested this approach on an Android smartphone (LG P500 Optimus One, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S, both running Android 2.2) and it works just the same on the phone as the tablet). Awesome! And of course, you can also use this approach to play music and view photos from your server anywhere in range of your wifi signal 🙂

Can iPad do that!? :p